Resources for Laboratory Sciences

Resources for Laboratory Sciences

Most of our work in the sciences is based on the premise that laboratory work is absolutely fundamental in learning and applying scientific concepts (Alkhaldi et al., 2015). Laboratory work has proven to increase students’ performance and interest in science-based classes (Tuysuz, 2010). Labs also support the development of authentic student inquiry and students’ understanding of the scientific process. According to Alkhaldi et al., (2015), there are two options to consider when physical, hands-on labs are not possible:

  • Remote Lab: A remote lab is defined when the experiment(s) is located physically away from the experimenter. The experiment is conducted in a physical lab, which is connected to the learner(s) remotely via the network. For example, students may connect remotely to move robots in a laboratory to conduct an experiment.
  • Virtual Lab: In a virtual lab, programs simulate laboratory environments whereby students can access and conduct experiments in a virtual space. [This lab is also called a “simulated lab.”]

Comparisons of learning outcomes between virtual and remote labs (VRLs) and hands-on physical labs have demonstrated that there are some advantages to VRLs: They can be available 24/7, the experiments can be done multiple times, and some unobservable phenomena such as thermodynamics, chemical reaction, and electricity can be well visualized (Heradio et al., 2016). In the section below this one, you’ll find some points to consider when moving your physical lab into a VRL setting. Scroll down farther for a list of specific VRL resources.

Try This


  • The Open Educational Resources in the MERLOT Simulation Collection (California State University) include thousands of free simulations on a broad range of topics. The database is searchable by keyword, and each item in the collection provides details, including material type, authorship, brief description, peer-review rating, and user rating.
  • For a curated list of online lab lessons and resources, check out #OnlineLabSci.
  • ChemCollective (a joint project of the NSF, Carnegie Mellon, and National Science Digital Library) offers free, online chem lab simulations for topics, including stoichiometry, thermochemistry, equilibrium, acid-base chemistry, solubility, oxidation/reduction and electrochemistry, and analytical chemistry/lab techniques.
  • Free online simulations and teaching activities for physics, chemistry, math, earth science, and biology can be found at PhET Interactive Simulations (University of Colorado – Boulder). While the site has simulations for all grade levels, a link takes you to simulations designed for university students.
  • eScienceLabs and Hands-On Labs are fee-based services that will work with faculty to create custom online and hands-on lab kits for courses.
  • Go-Lab is part of a European initiative to share remote and virtual labs.


Alkhaldi, T., Pranata, I., & Athauda, R.I. (2016). A review of contemporary virtual and remote laboratory implementations: observations and findings. Journal of Computers in Education, 3(3), 329-351.

Heradio, R., De La Torre, L., Galan, D., Cabrerizo, F.J., Herrera-Viedma, E., & Dormido, S. (2016). Virtual and remote labs in education: A bibliometric analysis. Computers & Education, 98, 14-38.

Tüysüz, C. (2010). The effect of the virtual laboratory on students’ achievement and attitude in chemistry. International Online Journal of Educational Sciences, 2(1).


Content on this page was adapted from the following websites:

Best Practices for Online Lab Experiments (Pepperdine University); Teaching Labs Online (UC Clermont); Course Continuity for Lab Courses (Middlebury College); Online Labs: Strategies and How-Tos for Online Lab Activities (Montana State University); Best Practices For…Running Lab Activities (Stanford University); and Keep Teaching – Run Lab Activities (Indiana University). Many of these sites are published under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial 4.0 license, or they contain material drawn from other sites published under the same license.